Good book on lens design for photographers : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I'm looking for a good book on lens design. A book that has practical utility for a photographer but is not an optical engineering book. Though I would consider the latter if it were written for the lay person. Note, I have both Stroebel and Stone already on my bookshelf. Any leads would be appreciated!

-- Edie (, August 12, 1999


I believe the series Basic Photography and Advanced Photography by Langford in the Focal Press edition have a good section on lenses.

-- Tony Brent (, August 13, 1999.

You might get some useful info from Dr. Rudolf Kingslake's book "A History of the Photographic Lens". You can get a copy through Barnes and Noble. Also, go to Deja-News and type in large format lenses and pay particular attention to Richard Knoppows responses, as he is very knowledgeable.

-- Guy Ulrich (, August 14, 1999.

I highly recommend the book "Applied Photographic Optics" by Sidney F. Ray from the Focal Press. The current edition seems to be the 2nd edition. The first edition, which I have, thoroughly covers everything about lenses that a photographer, as opposed to a lens designer, might want to know. 525 pages.

-- Michael S. Briggs (, August 18, 1999.

Let me lumber over to my book shelf and pick out a few of my favorites that you may consider. Let me first say however that good optical books usually published infrequently and in small runs They are therefore very expensive and/or are hard to find. Most of the books that I am about to mention are out of print.

I will give one (*) to five stars (*****) depending on how much I treasure the particular book but remember one man food is another mans poison.

Development of the photographic lens by R. Kingslake ~1950 (**), I keep this book mainly for historical significance. It has little pearls as to how some specific designs came about. History of the photographic lens by Rudolf Kingslake 1989 (***). Mostly a historical account about old lenses and their designs. Buy only if you are interested in history or if you are a collector.

Lens design fundamentals by R. Kingslake 1978. (****) . This is a gem. You will have to know some mathematics but if you want to try your hand at some lens design then this is a good place to get started. Get brushed up on your mathematics before you start. Goes through the design of the Tessar, Double gauss etc.

Photographic optics by Arthur Cox. 1974. (last edition) (*****). Another gem. Written in plain English, easy to understand even without the knowledge of mathematics, it provides a through, insightful and deep understanding of photographic optics. Well illustrated for a book of its time.

A system of optical design by Arthur Cox. 1964 (****). Dont get this one unless you are heavily into the mathematics of optical design. Complex but insightful, extensive.

Applied optics and optical engineering edited by RR Shannon and R Kingslake. (****) This is a series of (volumes I to XII) by various authors on various optical subjects compiled over many years. They are very through on whatever subject they cover. The last volumes should still be available new.

Geometrical and instrumental optics by Daniel Malacara 1988. (***) Has a short sections on photographic optics that is insightful.

Lens design by Milton Laikin 1990. (****) You will need a strong background in math in order and be familiar with optical design to get the best from this book.

Useful optics By Walter T. Welford 1991. (***)

Applied optics and optical design by A E Conray. 1960 (****) Considered by some to be the bible of optical design, this is not light reading, and although a deep mathematically understanding is not absolutely necessary to gain information from this book it sure helps. Comes as part I and part II, is still in print (because of its importance) and is inexpensive as far as optical books go.

The art an science of optical design R.R. Shannon. 1997. (*****) Great upto date stuff on how optical design is actually done today. Although the book is relatively inexpensive the computer programs it uses in its illustrations are very expensive.

Only Zeiss by Itoh Kensuke president of Kyocera corp. 1994 (***) Illustrates many of Zeiss designs. Insight into how the Zeiss optical works is organized. Some history, meager information, nice photos.

Applied photographic optics By Sidney Ray. 1998 (**). Although this is a large and extensive book, I dont give it high marks because it falls short on expected content, it reads like a encyclopedia, is rather volumous considering the amount of really good information that is presented to the advanced photographer, and does little for the designer. If you are looking for general information then consider this book.

Introduction to classical and modern optics by Meyers-Arendt ~1992 (****) If you want to start learning about designing optical systems, can hardly remember your college math, this is a good start. It leads you step by step through the basics and allows enough to review your math.

Lens Work by Canon corp. 1992 (***). No mathematics needed here. Mostly canon 35mm lens diagrams/illustrations and their MTF graphs, but there is a small section on optical design and lens aberrations that is well done for the novice, and is well illustrated. A fair amount of Canon propaganda.

Eyes of Nikon by Nikon corp. 1985 Same as the Canon equivalent above but more propaganda.

OM system hand book by Olympus corp. 1992. Essentially same as above.

I could go on. The are a few other books here example:by Warren Smith (1966 and 1989)with a little more modern bent to them than the Kingslakes books but I do believe that you should be able to find what you are looking for in one of the fore mentioned books. Need more or need information on a specific book? Contact me.

-- Pat Raymore (, August 25, 1999.

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